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Signals Ahead - The Murky Underworld of IoT

  • ID: 3617022
  • Report
  • January 2016
  • Region: Global
  • 31 Pages
  • Signals Research Group, LLC
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How 3GPP-based Solutions Pave the Way to a Connected World
While there is a lot of industry interest in IoT air interfaces and their individual merits, there is also more than a fair amount of uncertainty and unknowns regarding these technologies and what they can and cannot do, both in the short term and in the longer term. In this Signals Ahead report we look at the collective group of 3GPP-based CIoT technologies, by leveraging operator and vendor interviews, our analysis of 3GPP filings, and our recent participation in the last few 3GPP standardization meetings.

Highlights of the Study include the following:

History 101

We take a trip back through memory lane to show how and why we ended with the existing family of 3GPP-based CIoT technologies and device categories, including Cat 0, Cat M1, EC-GSM and Cat M2 (aka “NB-IoT”).

The Traffic Profiles

The best way to understand what NB-IoT/EC-GSM can and cannot do is to understand the traffic profiles and use cases used by 3GPP during the standardization process.

Performance Analysis

Leveraging the traffic profiles and published performance analysis results, we show what the marketing claims of NB-IoT really mean, the inherent tradeoffs that exist, and why we believe capacity is (or at least should be) dead last in terms of operator requirements.

Getting from Here to There

We discuss the likely impacts to the RAN and CN, including the potential/likely role of network virtualization and the use of an “EPC-lite” network. Included in this discussion is an update on the status of the NB-IoT specification, including some of the outstanding issues that remain.

The Deployment Scenarios

We discuss the pros and cons of the 3 deployment scenarios, namely standalone/GSM refarming, guard band, and in-band.

Adding another "G"

Based on what NB-IoT can and cannot do, as well as the likely traffic profiles, we discuss the practicality of NB-IoT fulfilling the 5G use cases being discussed that pertain to uMTC and cMTC.

And in the other Corner

CIoT technologies are not the only option that exists. In addition to the non-3GPP wide area technologies there are also the local and personal area technologies that play a role, either in a complementary or competitive role. We discuss.


This report is included as part of a subscription to Signals Ahead or it can be purchased separately.

Signals Ahead is a research-focused product that is published on a periodic basis. Its clientele include all facets of the wireless ecosystem, including some of the largest mobile operators, the top handset suppliers, the major infrastructure vendors, subsystem suppliers, semiconductor companies and financial institutions, including Wall Street, Private Equity and Venture Capitalists, spread across five continents.
Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown
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1.0 Executive Summary

2.0 CIoT History 101 - The Reader’s Digest Edition

3.0 IoT Objectives and Implementation Strategies
3.1 Cellular IoT Enabling Technologies
3.1.1 Lower Category Devices
3.1.2 EC-GSM
3.1.3 Clean Slate NB-CIoT NB-LTE
3.2.1 NB-IoT = NB-CIoT + NB-LTE
3.2.2 Performance Analysis
3.3 Core Network Implications
3.4 Complementary Technologies

4.0 Where It Is All Headed
4.1 Cat 0, Cat 1, and Cat M1
4.2 EC-GSM
4.3 NB-IoT
4.4 Next-Generation Network Technologies

5.0 Final Thoughts

List of Figures

Figure 1. Ratio of RF and Baseband Costs and RF-Related Costs for a Cat 1 Modem
Figure 2. Modem Cost Reductions Due to a 1.4 MHz Channel Bandwidth
Figure 3. Consolidated Cost and Performance Impacts of Various Optimization Strategies

List of Tables

Table 1. CIoT Traffic Type and Estimated Payload and Periodicity
Table 2. Estimated NB-IoT Throughput and Connections - per cell sector
Table 3. Estimated NB-IoT Battery Life with Various Traffic Profiles and RF Conditions
Table 4. Estimated Latency for Uplink Extension Reports
Table 5. Estimated Edge of Coverage NB-IoT Data Rates
Table 6. Estimated NB-IoT Capacity - number of NB-IoT devices per cell sector
Table 7. Ericsson Estimated NB-IoT Capacity - number of NB-IoT devices per cell sector
Note: Product cover images may vary from those shown
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